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In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, Ostlund offers characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign. In Upon Completion of Baldness” a young woman shaves her head for a part in a movie in Hong Kong that will help her escape life with her lover in Albuquerque. The precocious narrator of All Boy” finds comfort when he is locked in a closet by a babysitter. In Dr. Deneau's Punishment” a math teacher leaving New York for Minnesota as a means of punishing himself engages in an unsettling method of discipline. A lesbian couple whose relationship is disintegrating flees to the Moroccan desert in The Children beneath the Seat.” And in Idyllic Little Bali” a group of Americans gathers around a pool in Java to discuss their brushes with fame and ends up witnessing a man's fatal flight from his wife.
In the eleven stories in The Bigness of the World we see that wherever you are in the world, where you came from is never far away.
& Other Stories
Welcome to the peculiar and headlong world of Brian Doyle's fiction, where the odd is happening all the time, reported upon by characters of every sort and stripe. Swirling voices and skeins of story, laughter and rage, ferocious attention to detail and sweeping nuttiness, tears and chortling—these stories will remind readers of the late giant David Foster Wallace, in their straightforward accounts of anything-but-straightforward events; of modern short story pioneer Raymond Carver, a bit, in their blunt, unadorned dialogue; and of Julia Whitty, a bit, in their willingness to believe what is happening, even if it absolutely shouldn't be. Funny, piercing, unique, memorable, this is a collection of stories readers will find nearly impossible to forget.
"When BooBoo stabs Morris Boyle I am reading a news magazine that someone has smuggled into the wing."
Thus, the protagonist of this novella introduces us to prison, one of the several worlds he inhabits, worlds most of us would rather ignore but which inexorably, through what we see and hear and read and live on uncountable American streets, has become the one world we can no longer avoid. It seduces us with the voice of drugs and violence. Of the disenfranchised. Of those both at once outside and standing within the center of what no longer holds. It informs us of who we are today.
In the title story, an aging black singer who performs only Elvis songs despite his classic bluesman looks has his regular spot at the local blues jam threatened by a newly arrived Asian American with the unlikely name Robert Johnson. In Man Under,” two friends struggling to be rock musicians in Reagan-era Brooklyn find that their front door has been removed by their landlord. An aspiring writer discovers the afterlife consists of being the stand-in for a famous author on an endless book tour in Another Coyote Story.” Lonely and adrift in Florence, Italy, a young man poses as a tour guide with an art history degree in Know Your Saints.” And in This Is Not a Bar,” a simple night on the town for a middle-aged guitar student and jazz buff turns into a confrontation with his past and an exploration of what is or is not real.
In his depictions of struggling performers, artists, expectant parents, travelers, con-men, temporarily employed academics, and even the recently deceased, Becker asks the question, Which are more important: the stories we tell other people or the ones we tell ourselves?
Fatti Ashi died. Startling her family and community, she comes back to life just a few hours after dying. Blessing chronicles the life of this Fatti Ashi, a young village girl who from the moment she rejoins the land of the living is faced with both obstacles and opportunities consistent with an attempted mergence of two worlds. From a child who is molded with her fatherís advice to merge ancestral skull worship and Christianity to an underprivileged teenager who falls in love with the alphabet and finally becoming a woman who desires emotional and financial independence, Fatti Ashiís life yields misunderstandings and isolation. As a child in the village, her life is a battleground for family rivalry and religious conflict. As a teenage wife in the city, she befriends a sex worker who encourages her to bring meaning into her life rather than simply living to the dictates of others. She takes up the challenge by embarking on adult education and becoming a breadwinner but is taken aback when her husband requests a divorce. In a search for solutions to save her marriage, she entertains traditional religion, Catholicism and Pentecostalism. Disappointment and desperation lead her to take a deeper look at the situation. Is she to stay married simply for convenience? Is she to continue following religious paths laid out by others, clearly not as beneficial to her? Is she to please society to her detriment? The long journey of self-discovery takes her through scandal and humiliation but in the end, she emerges as a confident, admired and happy woman.
A Romilia Chacon Novel
A child dies on the border between California and Mexico. This is nothing new: immigrants die crossing the border all the time, escaping from poverty and violence in Latin America. They bake in the desert. But this death is different. Someone has taken body parts from the child. FBI Agent Romilia Chacón, a Salvadoran American, follows this case into a world that swallows her with its horror, a world that exists alongside ours, where children are bought and sold like cattle and shipped to men all across the country. The dealers in this blackest of markets have no moral barometer, only the lust for cash. And one among them has taken murder to a level beyond serial killing. Romilia comes to this case already broken: the man she loved and yet had to hunt—drug runner Tekún Umán, a regular on the FBI's Most Wanted List—is gone. Romilia has two friends, her partner Nancy Pearl—who lives a double life between the Feds and the cartels—and a bottle of booze. Romilia's mother is on her back to get sober; her son drifts further away. And the killer is taking away pieces of Romilia's life, day by day.
This tale of wild adventure reveals the dashed hopes of Africans living between worlds. When Moki returns to his village from France wearing designer clothes and affecting all the manners of a Frenchman, Massala-Massala, who lives the life of a humble peanut farmer after giving up his studies, begins to dream of following in Moki’s footsteps. Together, the two take wing for Paris, where Massala-Massala finds himself a part of an underworld of out-of-work undocumented immigrants. After a botched attempt to sell metro passes purchased with a stolen checkbook, he winds up in jail and is deported. Blue White Red is a novel of postcolonial Africa where young people born into poverty dream of making it big in the cities of their former colonial masters. Alain Mabanckou's searing commentary on the lives of Africans in France is cut with the parody of African villagers who boast of a son in the country of Digol.
Hailed for his humor and passion, the internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller has delighted, shocked, and emboldened audiences all over the world. Body Blows gathers six of Miller’s best-known performances that chart the sexual, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man: Some Golden States, Stretch Marks, My Queer Body, Naked Breath, Fruit Cocktail, and Glory Box. In Body Blows, Tim Miller leaps from the stage to the page, as each performance script is illustrated with striking photographs and accompanied by Miller’s notes and comment.
This book explores the tangible body blows—taken and given—of Miller’s life and times as explored in his performances: the queer-basher’s blow, the sweet blowing breath of a lover, the below-the-belt blow of HIV/AIDS, the psychic blows from a society that disrespects the humanity of lesbian and gay relationships. Miller’s performances are full of the put-up-your-dukes and stand-your-ground of such day-to-day blows that make up being gay in America
While the marquis de Sade was drafting The 120 Days of Sodom in the Bastille, another libertine marquis in a nearby cell was also writing a novel—one equally outrageous, full of sex and slander, and more revealing for what it had to say about the conditions of writers and writing itself. Yet Sade's neighbor, the marquis de Pelleport, is almost completely unknown today, and his novel, Les Bohémiens, has nearly vanished. Only a half dozen copies are available in libraries throughout the world. This edition, the first in English, opens a window into the world of garret poets, literary adventurers, down-and-out philosophers, and Grub Street hacks writing in the waning days of the Ancien Régime.
The Bohemians tells the tale of a troupe of vagabond writer-philosophers and their sexual partners, wandering through the countryside of Champagne accompanied by a donkey loaded with their many unpublished manuscripts. They live off the land—for the most part by stealing chickens from peasants. They deliver endless philosophic harangues, one more absurd than the other, bawl and brawl like schoolchildren, copulate with each other, and pause only to gobble up whatever they can poach from the barnyards along their route.
Full of lively prose, parody, dialogue, double entendre, humor, outrageous incidents, social commentary, and obscenity, The Bohemians is a tour de force. As Robert Darnton writes in his introduction to the book, it spans several genres and can be read simultaneously as a picaresque novel, a roman à clef, a collection of essays, a libertine tract, and an autobiography. Rediscovered by Darnton and brought gloriously back to life in Vivian Folkenflik's translation, The Bohemians at last takes its place as a major work of eighteenth-century libertinism.
It is possible . . .that literary historians of the future will decide that The Bones of Plenty was the farm novel of the Great Drought of the 1920s and 1930s and the Great Depression. Better than any other novel of the period with which I am familiar, Lois Phillips Hudson's story presents, with intelligence and rare understanding, the frightful disaster that closed thousands of rural banks and drove farmers off their farms, the hopes and savings of a lifetime in ruins about them.--New York Times Book Review"Hudson does a superb job of revealing the physical texture of farm life on the prairie--its sounds, smells, colors, sensations. Then she goes further, examining the spiritual texture as well. Her characters are bound to each other and to their land in a kind of harsh intimacy from which there is no relief. Weather, poverty, anger, and pride are the forces that drive them and ultimately wear them down. . . Like the best books of any era, it convinces us of its characters' enduring humanity, and surprises us, again and again, with the depth of emotion it makes us feel."--Minneapolis Star Tribune"At her best, Lois Phillips Hudson can make the American Ordeal of the 1930s so real that you can all but feel the gritty dust in your teeth."--Omaha World-Herald